Rawalpindi: England captain Ben Stokes will donate his match fees from their three-Test series against hosts Pakistan to help the victims of devastating floods in the country, the 31-year-old said in a statement on Monday.
Millions of people in Pakistan have had their lives affected by severe flooding in recent months, with officials in the Asian nation estimating damage from torrential monsoon rains that have killed over 1,000 people at more than $40 billion.
“To be back here after 17 years as a Test side is very exciting. There is a sense of responsibility among the playing and support group and to be here is special,” Stokes said.
“The floods that devastated Pakistan earlier this year was very sad to see and has had significant impact on the country and the people.
“The game has given me a lot in my life and I feel it’s only right to give something back that goes far beyond cricket. I will be donating my match fees from this Test series to the Pakistan flood appeal.”
The first Test starts in Rawalpindi on Thursday and England will be without fast bowler Mark Wood, who is nursing a hip injury that ruled him out of the Twenty20 World Cup semi-final and final in Australia this month.
“Mark’s not going to make the first Test squad unfortunately because of his injury,” head coach Brendon McCullum said.
“We expect him to be ready for the second Test and otherwise we’ve got a full squad to pick from.”
England coach Brendon McCullum said Rehan Ahmed has a fantastic opportunity to showcase his talent in Pakistan and has no doubts the 18-year-old has the confidence and ability to overcome the challenges he will face on tour.
All-rounder Ahmed has featured in only three first-class matches for Leicestershire — taking nine wickets and making 195 runs — and could become England’s youngest men’s Test player if he plays in Pakistan next month.
“What a fabulous kind of opportunity for someone like him,” McCullum told the Daily Telegraph. “He seems really confident in himself.
“He’s 18 and on an England tour to Pakistan so there’s some real opportunities there and there’ll be some challenges along the way, but it’s our job to figure this out.
“We know that he’s not the finished product. He’s a long way away from that, but he’s got something, which is pretty kind of special.”
Ahead of their Pakistan tour, England played a three-day match against the Lions in Abu Dhabi last week.
McCullum stressed the importance of bringing teams together in the build-up to a tour, saying it helps develop camaraderie in a squad that frequently separates to play different formats.
“One learning we had from earlier on in the year is that because now the team is very separate to the Twenty20 set up,” McCullum said.
“A lot of our guys go off and they do their own thing, so if we’re asking these guys to push the boundaries, then we need to get them together a bit earlier.
“A lot of that is not to do with cricket but breaking down those barriers, spending time socially, playing golf or at the pool. Once you have spent a couple of days together, you can put the graft in and start ticking off the skill side of things.”